Next Week

Okay, so unfortunately no posts for next week because I will be on vacation (HOORAY!!). I’ll have two posts up a week for the two weeks after I get back for sure. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

 

Megan 🙂

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Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum

Hooray for being back at it with the blog!! I’m going to try for 1-2 post(s) per WEEK, which should last for about 10 weeks with the books I currently have lined up to review. 🙂

So I went to the 2014 YA Fest in Easton, PA over Easter weekend. AND IT WAS AWESOME. A ton of great authors whose books I’ve read, some authors whose books have been on my to-read list for forever, and some completely new to me authors whose books sound AMAZING. And that’s where I got a pamphlet advertising for the Merit 66 Book Club! Basically, I emailed saying I was interested in joining, and they sent me this book. For FREE. That’s zero dollars and zero cents. $0.00. Which is my favorite price of anything, especially books. Do hashtags work on WordPress? I’m supposed to hashtag them so they can see the post. Here goes! #Merit66 YOU ROCK.

If you like: change-of-life stories, drama, overcoming obstacles, standing up for yourself and others, and more, you should read this book.

Colby is on center stage way more often then she wants to be (which would be never). Her dad is running for office, while her mom and two sisters stand looking gorgeous on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Colby is overweight, and treated as the outcast as the family. She didn’t think it was possible to feel more like an outsider, but she is wrong. After accidentally discovering her father’s affair, causing him to quit his corrupt campaign, Colby, her mother, and younger sister must move out of their house and take refuge in the run-down trailer belonging to her Aunt Leah. After a video of a half-dressed Colby is made by her cousin Ryan finds its way onto Facebook, Colby decides to end her life. A horrible accident prevents her from reaching her goal, and with the accident, Colby is painted as a hero. However, Colby is being forced to tell the truth about what really happened that night, and expose her mother’s selfishness and the shame she feels for herself.

The summary of this book honestly did not sound like a book I would pick out on my own. But, hey, free book, so why not read it? And then I got hooked. From the beginning, I felt such sympathy for Colby, who feels like everyone is against her, including her family. Then, as more and more horrible things happened to her, I found myself hoping something good would finally happen, like she would stand up to her mom, or she would make some friends and be truly happy. But things in poor Colby’s life got wayyyyyy worse before they even started looking like they would better. This book is seriously great for fans of YA, anyone struggling with a weight problem or self-esteem issues, or issues with family and friends. I feel like Colby can relate to so many different types of people, no matter what your personal story is. Read this!!

Pages: 286
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Fiction
Sequel?: No, but Beth Fehlbaum wrote a series called The Patience Trilogy (more info can be found here)

 

[I’m back!] Drowned by Cyn Balog

There are infinite excuses to explain my hiatus for the past year and a half but they are boring and mostly are because I’m lazy, so I’ll spare you. I’m sorry for the long break, but I’m back now!! Hooray! I am just going to start reviewing books that I’ve read recently, because I have read sooooo many books since November 2012 when I last posted that it would take years to catch up on reviewing them all. So: here goes!!

I still have those super cool author connections that let me get signed books frequently 🙂 This one was sent by Mrs. Balog’s husband to my mom to me at school, because she knows how much I love her books! And bonus: it was an ARC, and I got it in February when it was published end of June. HYPE. Is it so nerdy of me to say that I bragged to all my friends about having a signed book right from the author before it was officially released? Anyway, I promised Mrs. Balog that her book would be the first I would review when I got back on the blog, so I’m fulfilling that promise!

If you like: Cyn Balog, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian novels, romance, love stories, dramatic endings, unlikely heroes, and princesses, you’ll love this book.

Coe is unlike the others on the island of Tides. She is deformed, having lost her hand in an accident as a child. She is alone, her father lost at sea. Her society wishes she would disappear, to make room for those who are stronger and more useful. The only thing that keeps Coe going is Tiam, the boy she has known since they were small, but who seems to see Coe only as a friend. Each day, the tides rise higher and higher, threatening to sweep their society out to sea. Things are already uneasy on Tides, but grow even more so when the king falls ill with no male heir. Rebellion is brewing, and Coe is invited to join the palace staff as things outside get more uneasy. Soon, she learns that the king has been hiding a secret, one that will change the lives of every person on Tides, including herself and Tiam. Coe has to discover whether there is a way off the island to safety, or whether this secret will drown her along with the rest of the island as the tides continue to rise.

Okay, so I had kind of no idea what was happening in this book for the first ten pages, when everything really starts being explained, but I was still incredibly intrigued. I think the fact that I was so confused really made me keep reading because I was so curious about what would happen next! This book is awesome — everything you could want in a book. Love, drama, royalty…and it’s a dystopian book, which are without a doubt my favorite kind of book. 🙂 I fangirl so hard over Cyn Balog’s books it’s ridiculous, and this one is no exception! Such a good book, and so unlike any other dystopian books I’ve read over the years. DEFINITELY RECOMMENDED.

Pages: 298
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Drama
Sequel?: No, but Cyn Balog has many other books you should read: StarstruckFairytaleSleepless and Touched!

Son by Lois Lowry

I’m back from vacation everyone!

Okay, so you know how I listed a ton of books a few posts back, and said I was going to read them on vacation? Well, I kind of didn’t read all of them. I was actually really disappointed in many of the books I had on my Nook that were “vacation books”, and I had to buy some new ones by the end because I couldn’t bring myself to finish some of them. I’m still debating whether I should review the books I read and didn’t really like, but you also have to keep in mind that I couldn’t even get through the introduction for one book, and I was around page 50 on the other one and had to stop because I was bored out of my mind. So I won’t be reviewing those two because it wouldn’t be fair, as I didn’t read the entire thing. Sorry to disappoint you!

But, trust me, this book was anything but disappointing.

If you like: The Giver, Gathering BlueMessenger, anything by Lois Lowry, fantasy worlds, other societies, growing as a person, love, and friendship, you will like this book.

Claire was chosen when she was 12 to become a Birthmother, destined to produced three “Products” before being assigned a role elsewhere in society. Claire carried her first product when she was just 14, but something went wrong with the delivery of the product, and Claire is told she is no longer a Birthmother. She is sent to work at the Fish Hatchery, but every day she longs for the Product that she delivered. She discovers that she had given birth to a son, and is able to spend time with him secretly by volunteering at the Nursery. There, Claire discovers her son, labeled “Product 36”, is failing to thrive, and is being cared for more closely by a family in the community. Soon, something happens that affects both Claire and her son, and Claire knows she must find a way to him before it’s too late.

For one thing, I am IN LOVE with The Giver. It is honestly one of my favorite books of all time, ever, for the rest of eternity. If you have never read it, you need to stop what you’re doing, and immediately read this book. Second, Gathering Blue and Messenger are flipping fantastic as well, and you might as well just take a personal day because you need to read those, too. And once you’ve finished those three, you can move on to Son and just die at the perfect ending to this series. I mean really, Lois Lowry, you’re killing me with awesomeness. This was my first vacation book, and it is one of the few to not disappoint me in any way. At one point about halfway through the first part, I made a connection to The Giver and just couldn’t get over it. It made me just want to read all four of these books forever. So, give me a good reason as to why you aren’t getting in your car and driving to the closest bookstore/library or picking up your e-reader to get these books.

Pages: 393
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Drama
Sequel?: No, but just in case you didn’t catch it earlier, it is the last book in a series, preceded by The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger!

P.S. Random story time! Once upon a time, when I was in the 8th grade, I participated in the Hi-Q, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is basically an intelligence competition that asks questions about math, science, music, literature, and more. The high school version is way more intense than what I participated in, which was just for fun and intense competition and bragging rights. Anyway, I participated in “pop culture day” with three other people on my team in school, and because I have reflexes like road-kill, I could never hit the buzzer fast enough to answer the questions I knew the answers to. Fortunately, there was a boy on my team who would smack the buzzer for every question regardless of whether he knew the answer (typical boy). One question he spazzed out on was “Who is the author of the award-winning book, The Giver?” As he sat there staring blankly at the teacher asking the questions, I managed to grab the mic and say “LOIS LOWRY!”. We got the point, my team cheered for me, I felt awesome, and we ended up winning the Hi-Q. The moral of this story is: reading a lot means you have better chances of winning competitions and having bragging rights until you die. The end.

Touched by Cyn Balog

To start: I have officially applied to 3 colleges, guys! YAY for me! I still have 9 million more but 3 is better than nothing for a procrastinator like me… And P.S. this is my last post before I leave for vacation on Saturday! So no posts next week, but then plenty the weeks following…

Last PAYA 2012 book [kinda]! 😥 Let us all take a moment to remember PAYA 2012… (If I had a slide show of pictures, I’d play it now, set to sappy music and some inspirational quotes. But I don’t have a slide show, so let’s just move on…)

This is Cyn Balog’s most recent book and as you are well aware, I LOVE HER BOOKS. To explain why it says “kinda” in the first sentence, I must travel back to PAYA… Upon arriving at this year’s festival o’ fantastic things, I discovered that all the copies of Touched had been sold by the time I got there! Keep in mind, I got there around 2, and the festival started at 12. It was pretty awesome that her books are so popular that they were sold out in 2 hours, but it sucked for me, and I am selfish when it comes to books. My mom and I made a quick run to a nearby bookstore but they didn’t sell any copies, so we came up with a plan to get it signed because I’m nerdy and when I can get my books signed, you better believe they’re getting signed. Because my mom has connections (AKA Cyn Balog’s husband works with my mom), we bought a copy of the book at Barnes and Noble, she brought it to work, Mr. Balog took it home, Mrs. Balog signed it, Mr. Balog brought it back to my mom, my mom brought it home, and gave it to me. So this book is pretty much Flat Stanley at this point: it’s been everywhere.

If you like: any of Cyn Balog’s previous books, fantasy, drama, romance, thrillers, the future, the beach, the boardwalk, changing your future, and going “off script” (this becomes less of a common saying and more of a pun once you’ve read the book. I like to pretend I’m funny.), you will like this book.

Nick Cross has a voice in his head telling him what to do. And we’re talking moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. Not following the script, even in the slightest way, can lead to a disaster. So when he goes off script to save the life of Taryn, a beautiful girl he sees on the boardwalk, he accidentally ends another. Just saving Tayrn’s life has changed his entire script, from what is going to happen within the next five minutes to who he will someday marry. And Taryn does more than just change his future: she also has the ability to explain his past. Taryn’s grandmother may be responsible for why Nick is the way he is, all he needs to figure out is how she did it and if there is any way to stop it. Then, Nick falls for Taryn, and sees her in his future, when suddenly things take a dark turn. Now the future Nick sees is one he doesn’t want to happen and he wants desperately to stop it…but how?

GAHH I LOVE THESE BOOKS. If there was such a thing as being “too good”, these would be it. It’s not fair that a book can be so amazing! Especially when I try to write creatively, it comes out in the form of a disastrous Liam Neeson couplet (oh believe me, this had to happen for school, and it was NOT pretty). This book was sarcastic, dramatic, romantic, and keeps you on your toes. Just when you settle in to what is happening, BAM, here’s a little twist you didn’t see coming. All I have to say is this: read this book or else, and cross your finger, toes, EVERYTHING that Cyn Balog keeps churning out books, even if they come out when I have a family of my own. I’m still going to be reading YA books as an adult because how could I live without these awesome-tastic books? JUDGE THIS BOOK BY IT’S BEAUTIFUL COVER AND THEN READ IT, OKAY?!

Pages: 307
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Fantasy, Thriller
Sequel?: No, but you should check out all of Cyn Balog’s other books: Fairy Tale, Sleepless, and Starstruck!

🙂 She’s so nice! I still can’t get over the fact that 2 published authors have acknowledged my blog…

Popular by Alissa Grosso

2nd to last PAYA 2012 book! This is making me sad 😦
(P.S. Only 9 days to suggest books for me to read on vacation!)

This book will blow your mind. That is all.

If you like: thrillers, drama, romance, friendship, parties, high school, popularity, secrets, and plots that completely blow you out of the water, you will like this book.

Hamilton Best is the most popular girl in Fidelity High, and because her life in high school has been awesome, she’s afraid to graduate. She has her best friends: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, and her boyfriend, Alex, by her side, and never wants high school to end. Her parties are legendary, and only the people she has hand-picked are invited. Though everything seems perfect in Hamilton’s world, her friends are all secretly plotting to overthrow her as “queen bee”, so they can become the most popular girl in school. They start posting guest lists to the parties with unworthy people on them, and even try to steal Alex away from her. Hamilton is unconcerned with this, because she’s spending all her time trying to hide a secret that could destroy everything she’s worked for, and she would die rather than anyone find out the truth…

Okay, so I categorized this book as a thriller, which may not make sense if you just read the synopsis of the book, but it really is a thriller. You think everything is fine and dandy when suddenly BAM — everything you believed about the book is false. The book is split into two halves: “The Clique”, which is told from the points of view of Hamilton, Olivia, Nordica, Zelda, and Shelly, and Alex, her boyfriend. I somehow predicted what was going on right before it was revealed, and was so incredibly shocked. I don’t think most people will guess it; I only did because I had just been thinking about something that relates to Hamilton’s secret. But this secret — the author disguises it so well you’re stunned when it comes to light. I loved this book because of how the plot was turned completely upside down by this secret. Seriously, READ IT!

Pages: 325
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Serious Themes, Thrillers
Sequel?: No, but check out Alissa Grosso’s other book Ferocity Summer (which I’m probably going to read at some point!).

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Only three PAYA 2012 books left! 😦 I’ll miss them. Especially since I don’t think I’ll be able to go to PAYA next year considering I’ll likely already be at college. GROWING UP IS SAD.

Another judging-a-book-by-its-cover book. If you think about it, it’s really hard to not judge a book by its cover (and I’m strictly talking about books here, not giving some hidden metaphor for people or whatever, if you even started thinking that). When you’re walking through Barnes & Noble, just browsing, you’re likely going to gravitate towards the books with the pretty or interesting covers, unless you have a specific purpose for being there, in which case you’re just going to get the book you want without judging its cover. It’s not like I only buy books with gorgeous covers, but because the cover is the first thing you see, it really makes a case for whether the book is going to interest you or not, without you even having to open it. Okay, so I’m just going to stop ranting now.

If you like: love, romance, drama, friendship, overcoming hardship, getting closer with other people, clearing someone’s name, books told in alternating points of view which switch back and forth from the past to the present, and secrets, you will like this book.

Vera Dietz was in love with her neighbor, Charlie Kahn, her entire life. Charlie and Vera have both had rough lives: his father abused his mother, her mother walked out on the family; he is never shown affection from his parents, her dad barely knows whats going on in her life; he turned to drugs and risky behavior in order to cope, and she turned to alcohol. Even though she knows she should probably stay away from Charlie, Vera can’t. So when Charlie dies in mysterious circumstances, Vera is devastated: she sees Charlie everywhere, telling her to tell the police how he really died. But Vera is still hurt by all the things Charlie did before he died, and doesn’t know whether she wants to clear his name, or whether she just wants to be left alone…

This book was seriously good. It’s a little bit dark, so if you only like books with sunshine and bunnies and rainbows, you might want to steer clear. I’m not typically in love with dark stories, but I really liked this one. It keeps you on your toes in the way each chapter is told by someone else either in the past before Charlie died, immediately after he died, or in the present. It has a ton of twists and turns you won’t see coming, and was just fantastic. I’d recommend it!

Pages: 323
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Serious Themes
Sequel?: No, but you can check out A.S. King’s other books here.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Another PAYA festival book! YAY! But only three more to go (BOO!!). This book was an epic judge-a-book-by-its-cover book, and I’d seen it a few times in Barnes and Noble and was planning to wait until it came out in paperback, but this was PAYA people! I can’t go to PAYA and only buy paperback books! That’s not the cool way to do it!

Speaking of books and reading, I’m going on vacation in a little less than 2 weeks and I’m going to need some reading material!! I already have 7 books stocked up (SonWolf HallThe Casual Vacancy [what up J.K. Rowling?!], Life of PiThe Master of DisguiseThe Secret of Ella & Micha, and Measuring Up). This may sound excessive, but that’s not enough books for me for a two 3 hour plane rides and a week on the beach. I’ll be done halfway through the trip. If you can’t come up with anything, that’s cool, because they do have a forgotten books library there, but if you have any fantastical suggestions, hit me up.

If you like: retellings of any classic novels or Shakespeare stories, drama, romance, love, disastrous endings, tragedy (this doesn’t mean you like when bad things happen, it just means you like when something super surprising and uncalled for happens that completes the book in a good way), and happy endings.

Rosaline Caplet has been best friends with her neighbor, Rob Montag, since they were little, and her friends always assumed it would grow to be something more. As their senior year of high school begins, it seems like Rosaline’s friends might be right: Rob kisses her, and they plan to attend the big school dance together. But that’s before Rosaline’s cousin and ex-best friend, Juliet, shows up. When Rosaline was little, she went from being practically twins with Juliet to suddenly being enemies with no reasoning behind it. And now, Juliet is back, and acting seriously strange. All Rosaline wants is to have Juliet back as a friend, so she’s nothing but nice, even letting Juliet go with Rob to the dance so that she doesn’t have to be alone. Soon, Rob is all over Juliet, and acting like she’s his one true love, even though he’s supposed to be saying that about Juliet!! Rosaline is devastated, but once she starts hearing about how unstable and dangerous Juliet is, she becomes more worried for her friend than she is for her relationship. Will she be able to protect Rob from Juliet, or will it be too late? Did Shakespeare write the story like it was really supposed to happen?

I have a serious love for all retold stories in either book or movie form. I’ve already reviewed an example: Jane by April Lindner. I don’t know what it is, but retold stories are just SO COOL! On the other hand, I’m not the world’s biggest Shakespeare fan (sorry to let everyone know, but it IS possible to love reading and not like Shakespeare), even though I do have a soft spot for some of his quotes, but this book was AWESOME. One thing I love (retold stories) and one thing I like well enough (Shakespeare) combines to form a book of teen excellence. I haven’t read Romeo and Juliet since 9th grade, but I do remember some of it, and enjoyed being able to giggle because I understood the character and plot connections between the book and the play (I’m easily amused). Plus, as all of you know, I’m a sucker for a love story avec some drama (though I hate drama in real life), and this had both. I was in teen reader heaven. And the ending was totally shocking, but not too cliffhanger-y, which always makes me happy. I hate being able to predict 100% of the ending. I’d really suggest this book!!

Pages: 334
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Classic/Shakespearean Retelling
Sequel?: No, but according to Rebecca Serle’s website, this book is in talks to be made into a movie!! Another reason for you to read it!

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

PAYA book 3#!

I bought this book at PAYA because: 1) the premise of it sounded super interesting, and 2) I’m a sucker for judging books by their covers, and this one had a pretty rocking cover. It was also pretty short, which sometimes is a good thing in a book. Sometimes, I want to read a Harry Potter size book (well, actually, I would read those books every day of my life if I could), and sometimes I want to read a book that is under 300 pages. I needed to balance short books with long books when I buy books, so this one was a nice tally for the short books side.

**I forgot to mention this in the “Things I have done in between reviewing books” section on my last post: I saw Argo AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. That movie is going to be nominated for so many awards, let me just prepare you. You don’t want to be the one who is like “well, yeah, it got excellent reviews and is nominated for 7093248029347 Academy Awards and just Ben Affleck/John Goodman/Alan Arkin, but I just didn’t feel like it). That doesn’t make you really popular at parties. **

If you like: learning about other cultures/religions, Argentina, Judaism, adapting to new environments, New York, history, drama, romance, learning new languages, and making new friends, you will like this book.

Dani has lived in Argentina her entire life, but lately, life hasn’t been so easy. It started when a terrorist attack killed her aunt and unborn cousin on her seventh birthday, and has continued with the country’s struggling economy. Dani’s father lost his job, and the family has been struggling to get by ever since. Dani tries her best to help her parents by watching her little sister, Sarita, after school, and preparing meals, but she truly wishes she could just be spending time with Roberto, her boyfriend. As life becomes practically unlivable for Dani’s family in Argentina, they decide to move to America and start a new life. Dani doesn’t want to be separated from Roberto, who is moving to Miami, but she eventually realizes that moving to America may mean she doesn’t have to live in poverty anymore, and maybe her father will be happy like he was before. When Dani arrives in New York, she realizes that her dreams aren’t all coming true: she has to wear donated clothes, go to a school where she can barely understand the language, and her papa is still depressed. Her life improves when she meets Jon, who is somewhat of an outcast; Jessica, the popular girl in school; and Brian, who shows an interest in Dani and makes her laugh. Maybe life in America won’t be so bad after all, and maybe Dani will find a life better than she dreamed of…

This book was really cute, sad, and touching all at once. You feel sad for Dani after the death of her aunt and cousin, and at how depressed her father is. You feel happy for the family when they move to America, but disappointed that they’re struggling to fit in. You feel happy when Dani makes friends, and someone who may be more than a friend. You also feel connected to her, because she lived through a terrorist attack that touched Argentinians the way 9/11 touched Americans. I had the same problem at the beginning with the Spanish words with no translation, but that’s easy to move past. I really liked this book!

Pages: 278
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance, Family
Sequel?: No, but Sarah Darer Littman has written other books, which you can check out here!

Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser

Okay so let me start out by saying I am a giant loser for going so long between posting. Really — I’ll except virtual slaps on the wrist for being such a noob. Here are a few lame excuses: I got a bad haircut; school is impossible; I had work a ton of days until beginning of October; I do more ridiculous projects in 12th grade than I did in 5th grade; I had 0 time to read and therefore 0 time to review’ instead of reading in my spare time, I would sleep; college searching = stressful/hard/depressing/exhausting. So once again, I apologize. But good news!: I have 5 books from PAYA that I read and am going to line up reviews for so they’ll be publishing themselves on Tuesdays and Thursdays (with an obvious exception being today — Monday) for the next two-three weeks! YAY!

P.S. If I don’t post this week, blame Hurricane Sandy. She’s gave me off school today and tomorrow, but she’s a moron for causing damage. 😡 How dare you harm OCNJ!!!

If you like: overcoming obstacles, love, romance, drama, family drama, family situations, getting help, strong female characters, having good morals, and Russia/Russians, you will like this book.

Alyssa Bondar is a 15-year-old Russian-Jewish girl living with her mom and dad in New Jersey and trying to have the most normal life possible. The family immigrated from Russia when Alyssa was very young, but still kept parts of their culture with them when the came to America. In Russia, it’s not out of the ordinary to have a few drinks in the middle of the day, and many adults tend to drink too much on holidays. This usually isn’t a problem, but suddenly, Alyssa’s mom starts drinking in the middle of the day to cope with her stressful job, and rarely comes out of her room. Instead of being able to focus on her crush from the cross-country team, Keith, or deal with her friend Lana, who is abandoning her culture in order to be popular, Alyssa has to come home to take care of her mother and the house, while her father buries himself in the evening news. When Mrs. Bondar’s drinking is suddenly exposed, Alyssa has to figure out how to deal with her family problems, when all she wants is the normal life her friends have.

This book was really interesting, as it gave both an insight into Russian culture but also a look at a teenage girl dealing with a serious issue: alcoholism. Alyssa is a really well developed character, and is forced fully into maturity by a serious problem that threatens her entire family. I had some trouble, especially at the beginning, with following what was going on when Alyssa’s parents (especially her mom) were talking, because the author would use Russian words and not give the English translation (which for someone as OCD as me meant a hardcore Google Translate extravaganza). Other than that, the book was really well written: it was cute, serious, dramatic, and touching in all the right places. READ IT!

Pages: 302
Genre: Young Adult, Drama, Romance
Sequel?: No, but Margie Gelbwasser wrote another book called Pieces of Us which looks like something I’ll probably be reading in the future!

It’s a bad picture, but what are you going to do?
It says: “May your world be filled with butterflies! -Margie”

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